Mt. Thielsen circuit

March 29-30, 1980

(That means all the way around)

Skied from highway 138, hot on the track of Wes Prouty and gang, who were passing through on a lengthy day trip. (Didn’t catch up with Wes, but met one of his group hobbling out with a broken binding. And thanks for the packed trail, Wes.)

After various wax problems we dropped over the corniced west ridge. Here the wind picked up, but right on cue, Thielsen’s summit popped from the clouds where it hid till now. Quick photos and a short rest, then we left Wes’s tracks and contoured high above the trees—a brilliant maneuver that exposed us to the full blast of the wind, now gusting to maybe 45 mph; kept us in the cloud which had again dropped; and ran us headlong into a rather abrupt drop-off above Thielsen Creek. Here we conceded defeat and removed our skis to plunge down to the creek.

At this point I was really thankful we were on skis and not in one of Rob Scherer’s Buicks. You can remove skis; but when you’re in a Buick you’re stuck with it. All around us were rusting, abandoned Buicks, some dating back a hundred years or more. They’d obviously met their match on this mountain. Rob—take note: there was not a single Datsun to be seen. Amidst the relics we pitched camp as snow began falling, then carefully cooked dinner—a good trick with 3 people + gear + stove inside a 2½ person tent. Didn’t spill too much, and soon we went to bed snuggled around our water bottles to keep them from freezing. (Our boots didn’t fare as well, though.)

Around midnite Ron and I were awakened as a freight train carrying a herd of screaming rhinoceri roared through the tent. Turned out to be only Tim’s snoring, and after a few knee jabs in the ribs he learned to stop. (He learns as well as Pavlov’s dogs.) Awoke to a cloudless day, with Thielsen’s glistening North face looming over our camp. We skied high above Cottonwood Creek on the East Side, then contoured around on icy slopes. Then, somewhere in here, Ron’s $250 tent grew tired of Ron, and parted company. (Can’t really blame it, though.) However, Ron decided to wait awhile before discovering this. When he did, we back tracked a mile, but no luck finding the tent. With Ron now somewhat agitated, we tried a 3-man grid search below the trail, an utterly hopeless task. Hopeless, but not quite impossible—we somehow found the tent hiding on the downhill side of a tree 150 feet from the trail. It wasn’t too happy to regain Ron’s company, and this time Ron firmly attached it to his pack.

Now that I’ve offended everyone on the trip—oops, forgot to mention the klutzy leadership—and some who weren’t (Sam Miller and Parker Riddle you got off lucky this time!), I’d better quit. Ron, under considerable coercion, bought us milkshakes on the way home—a small price for his tent. Skiers Tim Cook and Ron Whisler were lead by Bert Ewing.


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